The latest effort to shut down iGaming in the US Congress was initially stopped in its tracks, but may come back to life.
RAWA attempt, 2017 edition
The new attempt at advancing an online gambling ban has been floating around in recent weeks.
An amendment to an appropriations bill had been floated in the House of Representatives that mimicked past versions of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. That’s legislation that has been proposed over the years to stop states from regulating and legalizing online gambling of any sort. (That would include ending iGaming in states where it is already legal: New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.)
That amendment was apparently the brainchild of Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), likely via casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, America’s most vehement opponent of iGaming. Dent represents the Pennsylvania district that is home to Adelson’s Sands Bethlehem. (PA is seriously considering legalization of online poker and online casinos.)
Here was the scuttlebutt:
But that never happened:
The newest rumor came out late on Friday, meaning an online gambling ban could still have legs:
Online gambling opponents remain winless
A related effort came up last year in Congress. While not including an actual iGaming ban, language added to a Senate bill could have led to further action.
The House did not concur with language that would have argued that the Wire Act was meant to cover all forms of online gambling, not just sports betting. (A 2011 memo from the Department of Justice asserted the Wire Act covered only sports gambling.)
Before that, a House hearing on RAWA in 2015 was a debacle for proponents of an online gambling ban. And Congressional efforts to stop iGaming in its tracks date back long before that.[i15-table tableid=20717][i15-table tableid=20680]
Adelson and Co. aren’t going to stop
While no iGaming ban has ever gained serious traction in Congress, that hasn’t stopped anyone from continuing to try. It’s clearly not the last time we’ve seen such a legislative attempt, as long as Adelson continues to draw breath.
The new front is attempting to roll back the aforementioned DOJ Wire Act opinion via the administration of President Donald Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the topic of iGaming, but that also hasn’t quieted the chatter at all.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has for some reason taken up the cause and is spouting some of Adelson’s nonsense talking points.
Any hopes that Trump, who used to be in the casino business, would be friendly to iGaming have largely been left at the wayside. The hope now is that he just doesn’t damage the current environment, which allows for states to legalize online gambling if they want to.
The bottom line: proponents of iGaming must stay vigilant.